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Freddie’s November Market Update


The recent trend in the UK labour market has seen some significant changes for candidates, recruiters, and hirers. This article aims to outline the current labour-market situation as we head towards the second half of November; a stark difference in its nature when compared with March 2020 and the onset of COVID-19 in the UK.

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Market momentum shows no sign of slowing

At the end of September, the UK labour market was soaring towards (and past) all-time highs of active job postings. This resulted in hot competition for quality candidates, with most having more than one ongoing process and a large number even having more than one offer. In the last month we’re yet to see that trend slowing down; while London job postings have only just recovered to pre-COVID levels in the last month (slower than almost all other UK regions), that number is rising sharply and now sits 14.2% higher than the first week of March 2020. In the finance arena, the latest data shows that the week between the 1st and 7th of November saw an increase of 3.2% on the previous week for job postings for chartered accountants. This trend is reflected across the vast majority of industries in the UK; the total number of active job postings in the UK has increased by an astounding 36% (over 600,000) since the last week of August.

Once again, we’re seeing candidates being sped through processes as firms compete for their interest; perhaps even at a level greater than before. Research released earlier this month by Gartner found that the majority of UK-based candidates were considering multiple job offers, with 32% considering at least three offers.

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Many candidates are being inundated with offers; how can recruitment companies and hirers ensure that they retain candidates all the way through to the acceptance stage?


To combat this, something that should be considered by hopeful employers is provisionally booking candidates into 2nd (and perhaps even 3rd) interviews whilst booking them into 1st rounds. By doing so, you should be able to cut the number of days between each stage and ensure that the back-to-front process is streamlined, with less back and forth between all parties. Another advantage of doing so is that it creates more certainty for the candidates, meaning that if they are to receive other offers but prefer your role, they know how long they have to hold out for before they can make a final decision. As an example of the benefits of a quick process, one of my candidates, who was involved in 3 processes when we met her, was zipped through our interviews and accepted a job 10 days after being sent to the client; in comparison, she was yet to have final stage interviews organised in her other potential roles.

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Covid, Candidate power, and the effect on Fixed Term Contracts

One area that is becoming less straightforward is with FTCs, with fewer candidates wanting to accept, or even hear about FTCs. I suspect this is due to three reasons: Firstly, the abundance of permanent positions means that candidates do not necessarily have to settle for fixed term contracts. Secondly, with the uncertainty of COVID, candidates want security. With nature of the market in the last couple of months it’s easy to forget the state of the labour market in the 14-16 months prior; the last thing candidates want is to be coming out of a FTC into a similar market. Thirdly, and finally, the number of Australians and South Africans in the UK on two-year tourist VISAs has fallen drastically due to COVID, meaning fewer candidates with a natural inclination towards shorter Fixed Term Contracts. While it may only play a smaller part, it’s possible that the lack of travelling opportunities at the moment might also be contributing to the issues, as candidates look to settle down until travelling is more available. All in all, the FTC market is symptomatic of the wider market in general at the moment, with the “power” lying mainly in the hands of candidates who are able to pick and choose as they like.

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With so many moving parts, when or where the next shift in momentum in this crazy market might come is anybody’s guess

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Ultimately the direction of the market hasn’t changed over the last month and has become more candidate-driven if anything, and there is little sign of any sort of plateau being reached just yet; the data suggests that this surging market has in fact gained a lot of momentum in a robust recovery following COVID as the economy reopens and the furlough scheme starts to be phased out. At Trace, we are finding that despite having candidates in other processes outside of ours, we’re managing to place them into our roles by encouraging speedy processes with our clients and regular contact with those candidates; last week was one of our strongest weeks since I arrived in early August, with one of our consultants making 4 placements.